Thursday, August 13, 2009

Simpling My Life

Listening to the last audio in's Think Like An Herbalist course taught by Heather Nic an Fhleisdeir, I was struck by the notion that the whole thrust of my life in the past few years has been an attempt at creating a Simple. What's a Simple? Creating a medicine (be it an infusion, tincture, what have you) using a single herb. That sounds simple, but actually, a great deal can go into the process of choosing that one herb. You might (as Heather suggests) indulge in creating a list of gripes and complaints about your health, then list all the herbs you have available that would assuage those complaints, then circle three herbs that resolve the most complaints on the list. Then see which herb of which you have an abundance. You might choose that one herb as your Simple, because there are no coincidences. If you have an abundance of it, it may be a kind of "pick me, pick me!" or a "calm waiting for you to notice". (this is my interpretation of Heather's words!). Anyway, choosing a Simple is a personal and individual process. Two people with lists of similar complaints are likely to choose two different herbs as their Simple.

Okay, so I'm going about with my list in a mixed-up way. One thing I notice is the abundance of Rose in my garden, and in my jars (vinegar, tincture, dried ...). Notice, too, this bread which I made recently:

I used hand-ground spelt ...

And added rose petals and a bit of lavender from the garden, and some dried calendula and dried nettles.

Okay, the mix of herbs is not "simple" -- but I'd have to say, that if any herb speaks as a Simple in my life right now, it would have to be Rose.

So, my thought is: okay, backwards is fine. How about listing my complaints now, and then researching Rose absolutely thoroughly. With which systems of the body does Rose work her magic? What, where, when, why, how does she work? Is there something about Rose that might soothe my achy wrists and shoulder? (too much typing) I've never heard/read of Rose working in this way, but what if certain qualities of Rose might be just what I need -- a Rose salve for instance? The Rose might inspire me to -- ah, slow down and smell the roses (so I spend less time on the computer, and less time furiously pecking away at the keyboard). But some aspects might be particularly soothing and healing to my body in other ways ....

A trail of thought, reflection, research, and experience to follow ....

Anyway, back to the idea of "Simpling my Life". I realize that actually a huge amount of reflection, experience, research, living is bundled up into a Simple, and there lies its potency -- because the herb is just right, just what you need, the perfect ally. In the past years of shedding many possessions, sifting through my passions, moving home a few times, it has been about finding the one place, the one expression of art and purpose that bundles all-that-I-am, that nourishes my entire system, and allows me to offer my self in my most potent fashion. How far do I carry the metaphor of Simple? The answer: as far as is useful. In the end it's an intriguing exercise of thought, and perhaps practice. I might do well to attend as well to the art of creating effective Formulas (using a few herbs together), and see what light this shines on who, what, how, why, I can live my most soulful, purposeful life.


Dubious said...

I can relate to your "simpling" search, Jane, and I feel so good about having several lovely patches of self-heal (or heal all) in our little yard. If ever a simple herb can cover many complaints, surely one with this name can!

Thanks again for your thoughtful musings.

Dia said...

What a lovely suggestion - to connect what you have an abundance of with what you need!! So simple, lol!

Ah, roses! Good for nosebleeds! Their astringent qualities help them staunch blood - & smell yummy, too! Have you seen my post on rosebeads (on V Vale)? A wonderful use of 'extra' petals - & the powder is great for many uses :)

Years ago I took an herb class series that inc. making tinctures, salves, even beer (nettle) & one of the things Glen Nagel said that really struck me was 'learn 100 things about 10 herbs - the expand your knowledge!'
I've since taken several '10 favorite herb' classes, & fav. books include (of course) Susun Weed's Healing Wise (7 herbs) & Lalitha (Thomas)' 10 Essential Herbs.
Today I was playing for a wedding & met a nursery man who joined a conversation about the recent addition of olive & camellia plants as 'can grow' in W Oregon! I have a couple of each, & love them. He said he's been trying to get some seeds of rooibos (a legume) which he thinks 'should' grow well here, too!
I did a post about the wedding, with sweet photo of Rowan :)


Jane said...

Oh, yes, Chris -- sounds like Heal-All would be a perfect simple for you, indeed!

Dia, I had NO IDEA that roses might be good for nosebleeds! That is so cool! I love the image of sticking red or pink rose petals in one's bleeding nose :-). Not sure if that's what one would do. I'll look into it! I've gotta check out your post on rosebeeds.

Olive, camelia, and rooibus in W. Oregon? I'll have to try growing them when I return to Washington! We have a camelia here (planted in honor of my grandmother when she passed away) and it is gorgeous ....!